Thursday 4 November 2021

Kissing Emma - Shappi Khorsandi

Emma and her mother are down on their luck. They're taking turns sleeping on the sofa in her nan's tiny flat - and desperately trying to come up with an escape plan.

Emma is struggling with her family, struggling at school where the girls are bitchy towards her and the boys only seem to want one thing, and struggling with never having enough money for anything, ever.

Just as she's contemplating quitting school to get a real job, she meets two men who convince her that she has a shot at modelling. But their motives are far from innocent, and Emma is soon pulled into a dark world. And then she meets Con, who is rich, handsome and so romantic! Has Emma's luck finally changed?

Kissing Emma is inspired by the real life and untold story of Emma Hamilton, Lord Nelson's mistress. But Shappi Khorsandi's modern Emma is going to get the happy ending her namesake never did - and stick two fingers up at the men who dare to take advantage of young women while she's doing it.

Not suitable for younger readers

What did I think?

I loved Shappi Khorsandi's debut novel, Nina is Not Ok, so I was eager to see how she would follow it. Wow! Kissing Emma completely blew me away; it is so outstanding that I was left speechless and completely bereft after I turned the final page.

Inspired by the story of Lord Nelson's mistress, Emma Hamilton, this is a raw, honest and and often difficult to read 21st century coming of age story. Emma doesn't have a decent male role model to show her what love is and she finds out the hard way that sex isn't love. Emma's story is often disturbing and horrifying as she makes awful decisions and is consequently taken advantage of; I just wished I could have reached inside the book and helped her.

It's quite a short read at only 296 pages but it is so powerful. All teenage girls should read this book to learn to value themselves instead of trying to make boys love them by offering their bodies on a plate. Back in my day, Judy Blume's Forever was the coming of age novel all girls wanted to read but it really showed relationships through rose-tinted glasses. 

Shappi Khorsandi's Kissing Emma is a stark, honest coming of age story for a new generation and it is destined to become a classic. It's quite simply brilliant!

I received a copy of Kissing Emma for free from the Amazon Vine programme and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

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